13 Mar 2019 11:25

Azerbaijani exercise held without proper notification harms Karabakh settlement process - Armenian FM

YEREVAN. March 13 (Interfax) - The large-scale military exercise held by Azerbaijan without giving a proper notification via the OSCE erodes the atmosphere of confidence, which is required for a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said on Wednesday.

"The provision of security and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh are an absolute priority of Armenia. An effective peace process requires a relevant atmosphere of trust," Mnatsakanyan said at a joint press briefing with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak in Yerevan.

The large-scale military exercise held by Azerbaijan "without giving a proper notification" via OSCE channels "does not contribute to the provision of regional security and the strengthening of the atmosphere of trust," Mnatsakanyan said.

In turn, Lajcak welcomed reduced tensions on the Karabakh contact line.

"That would promote the peace process. People must be prepared for peace. We are confident that positive results can be achieved with phased efforts and dialogue," he said.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said earlier that a large-scale military exercise involving up to 10,000 servicemen of various branches and services, special forces, and army units and formations would take place on March 11-15.

The exercise also engages 500 tanks, armored vehicles, including motor and special vehicles, up to 30 missile-and-artillery systems of various calibers, rocket launchers, mortars, and up to 20 army and frontline aircraft.